Difference Between Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism
The difference between the Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism sects of Buddhism is in their religious concepts. Mahayana means literally ‘ the passengers by a bigger vehicle’ and Hinayana means literally ‘ the passengers by a lesser vehicle ’.
The Mahayana Buddhism introduced the thought of godhead in religion. Buddha became main deity. According to them, Arhats is more restricted than Buddhas.
Hinayana follows fundamentals of the Pali canon. The Hinayana Buddhism stresses importance and signification of the four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path. It is reason why they are estimated as the sect that closely follows teachings of the Buddha. On the other hand, the Mahayana Buddhism tries to re-interpret vague doctrine of its own manner.
The Hinayana Buddhism maintains that one follow the path of Bodhisattva before becoming Buddha. The Mahayana Buddhism believes in the previous births of Buddha Shakyamuni as Bodhisattva which is depicted in a version of stories called Jataka. Mahayana thinks that there are one thousand Buddhas which will begin universal religions. They say that there had much more before and will be much more after them too.
Mahayana says that each can become Buddha. It is because of the fact that each is blessed with the nature of Buddha who can project the achievement of the status of Buddha. Hinayana does not go into detail of nature of Buddha entirely.
Mahayana thinks that only Bodhisattvas played the ten extensive attitudes. The Buddhism of Hinayana does not hold this view. According to the Buddhism of Mahayana, generosity, skill in means, patience, ethical self-restraint, mental stability, cheerful persistence, strengthening, deep conscience, aspiration filled with prayer and conscience full of awareness are the ten extensive attitudes. On the other hand Mental stability, skill in means, aspiration filled with prayer, by getting stronger and deep conscience is replaced with renunciation, being true for his word, resolution, love and equality by Buddhism of Hinayana.
Both sects differ by the treatment of the four immeasurable attitudes also. It is really true that both sects teach the practice of the four immeasurable attitudes of love, compassion, joy and equality. At the same time they differ by the definitions of these attitudes. Although, there is an agreement between them from the point of view of the definitions of love and commiseration, there is a difference in the treatment of immeasurable joy and equality. Hinayana defines immeasurable joy as delighting in happiness in nonexistence of jealousy, but on the contrary Mahayana defines immeasurable joy as wish that others have the experience of joy or happiness of uninterrupted elucidation.
According to Mahayana Buddhism equality is the frame of mind which is deprived of attachment, repulsion and indifference. The Hinayana Buddhism defines equality as the result of our commiseration, love and conviviality. These are important difference between both sects of Buddhism, termed, Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism.